When Mr Ahmad bin Salleh, 91, first began to ask the same questions repeatedly and look for food although he had already taken his meals, his daughter, Mdm Umi, thought it was just part and parcel of ageing. It was only when Mr Ahmad was admitted into hospital for a heart attack that was he diagnosed with dementia. Mdm Umi works as a cleaner, living with her father and husband in a rented one-room flat. The family struggles to make ends meet, especially since her husband was diagnosed with an eye condition that could rob him of his sight and his job.
Help came in the form of COMIT, or Community Intervention Team. A project by O’Joy Care Services, COMIT is one of two projects under the Temasek Cares-iCommunity@North partnership. Established in January 2012, COMIT provides counselling therapy and care coordination services to the elderly and their caregivers. Customised intervention plans allow the elderly and their caregivers to better manage dementia and its related issues.
In February, a complementary team, CREST, or Community Resources, Engagement and Support Team, was formed by Thye Hua Kwan Moral Charities (THKMC). CREST provides community outreach and education, identifying elderly individuals with signs of dementia and mental health conditions in order to connect them to the appropriate healthcare service.
Funded by Temasek Cares, this ground breaking pilot programme is the first integrated regional mental health network in Singapore involving partnerships with the Agency for Integrated Care (AIC), Khoo Teck Puat Hospital (KTPH), THKMC and O’Joy Care Services. This pilot programme in the northern region of Singapore will give 300 elderly individuals and their caregivers access to social, community and healthcare services such as counselling therapy that are close to home.
Thus far, the COMIT programme has benefitted individuals such as Mdm Umi. Thanks to weekly visits from a counsellor, Mdm Umi is now able to better manage her father’s condition. “The counsellor advises me how to take care of my father and reminds me to take breaks like going for walks so I feel less stressed. They give me a lot of confidence,” says Mdm Umi.
Plans are now underway to expand the programme to include a greater pool of care providers.